It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Swamp Creek Farm. Sarah called from overseas and sounds good but tired. She loved the trail mix we sent her. She shared it with her soldiers. I hope she got all of the boxes we sent.
I have been busy working around the farm. Out in the field I harvested all of the tomatoes from the high tunnel and pulled the vines. I tilled part of the perennial bed where I will plant the apple trees that are coming and I dug two holes for them. I cut the grass down around the hazelnut trees, hoed all the fruit trees and wrapped them, cut all the grass around the gooseberries row and I planted a whole row of native plum trees (trees that I had previously put along the long (road) side of the fence). There are still more to plant, too! I need to dig three more holes for the grafted plum trees that will be coming, but digging holes is kind of hard on my arthritic knees so I decided to wait a couple of days before going back and digging again.
Closer to the house I set up my campfire/cook ring I bought after Christmas from Cabelas. I am stacking cement blocks around it and will cover the blocks with a piece of plywood and a tarp to keep the ring dry. That way, when Spring comes round next year I can just pull off the plywood and tarp and get to work boiling down maple sap. My Dad is going to come cut down a bad tree for me (the one by the chicken run that I took the fence down for) and split it up. He'll leave the wood right there and I can use it for boiling down the sap. That was really nice of him. He must have liked that maple syrup I gave him this Spring. Anyway, when I get all of the cement blocks set up I'll take some pictures so you can see how it looks.
I am slowly chopping down the brush around the chicken coop and working my way up to it. Still haven't worked up the nerve to really go near it. I've been stacking any loose rocks I stumble upon around the herb bed. It will look nice when it is done.
I went to the building supply store and bought a 2" x 4" and a 2' x 3' piece of 1/2" hardware cloth. I made a nice sifter. As soon as I pick out a spot to dig, I'll get the soil for filling up the new garden boxes. Speaking of which, I still have lettuce and sorrel for salads -- not enough to sell, but enough for me and Lara -- and I am pleasantly surprised that the beans, peas, carrots, bunching onions, and beets are looking GREAT! This morning it was 26F at 8 a.m. and the frost was hard on the grass, too. I won't have much longer to get the work done.
Early this morning Tom took Eddy to Minocqua to get his ingrown toenails fixed. I know it's gross, but I remember how that hurts so I am glad the poor kid was finally able to get in and have the problem taken care of. Soooo, while they were gone, I started processing the fruit I picked up from the 4-H truck sale yesterday. I made raspberry and blackberry jam, and put a little over a gallon of blueberries in the dehydrator. Sarah really liked those blazons I put in the trail mix, so I thought I would dry alot more fruit to send over there. She said there are never enough bananas over there; people are always fighting over them, and she was glad I had dried some bananas for the trail mix, so bananas will be another fruit I will dry. I am thinking about doing some raspberries, and will definitely dry more sour cherries and cranberries again. Which reminds me, after I picked up my 4-H order I stopped at the little gas station on highway W in Phillips to buy my cranberries for the year. I told the woman how I made the trail mix and sent it over to our troop and she was SO happy that I had used their cranberries in the mix. People really to support our troops up here; it's a big deal. I need to email Sarah that there is a soldier by her from Phillips. My sister Mary is trying to find the news story about the guy so we can send Sarah his name. Lastly, I stopped at the Fifield Feed Store to get some deer apples for making the apple butter, sauce and slices. Bernie wasn't there so I didn't get to ask him how his salsa turned out and how he liked those Red Cloud potatoes, but there will be other times; I like that Fifield Feed Store. The apples were small, but they looked pretty good, and you can really smell their scent when you come into the kitchen. Less than $20 for 80#, well, these days you can't beat that! I going to try drying apply slices like the Amish do and see how we like them.
After Tom and Ed returned home, I went over to Dad's because he wanted to give me some angle iron posts for my fence. The iron was from an old electrical tower -- Dad always was a great scrounger (must run in the family, you should see the stuff my sister, Mary, has scrounged over the years!). We dug through this mountain of metal and I got enough 9' pieces to fix up at least the short side of the fence. He showed me how to mark it, drill it, and string a line to make the fence line straight -- something I wish I had known when I first put up the fence. So, I hope to get that done in the next week or two before the ground freezes up. He also gave me some cement blocks he wasn't going to be using any more so I added them to the wall around the maple syrup rig.
I have to tell you what I did. I have been a subscriber to Mother Earth News Magazine for years. Well, if you've never been to their web site, you should go and check it out. It has all sorts of good information on modern homesteading. Anyway, one of their offerings is called CU and it is where people can upload pictures to share with other people who visit the web site. I decided to create a photoblog there of Swamp Creek Farm and I uploaded all my old time "pioneer" pictures of the family and made a pictorial history of each year we've been in Wisconsin. I call those files "As We Grow" followed by the year. I also uploaded the series of pictures I put on this blog for making sauerkraut. Well, the day after I uploaded the pics to Mother, I went back to the site to make sure everything had posted correctly, and lo and behold, above my sauerkraut gallery was posted "Editor's Pick". I was so excited, and the neat thing about going back to look at your galleries is there is a counter that tells you how many people have looked at your pictures. It's pretty neat and there are some gorgeous pictures. My "Favorites" and "Original Homesteaders and New" galleries have gotten several views. The old picture of building Grandpa's barn was even emailed to somebody.
This post is getting pretty long so I think I'll quit here and make another!